If you’ve spent any time over the past decade or so in and around the halls of the University of St. Thomas School of Law, there is a very solid chance you’ve run into Adam Brown ’06.You might be a former classmate or professor of Brown’s. Maybe he taught your class as an adjunct professor in the Mentor Externship program, or served as your mentor, or coached or judged you in the school’s Moot Court program. If you have volunteered with the UST Law Alumni Association, you definitely know Brown – he has been on the Alumni Board since 2007 and will serve as president in 2015 – likely on a first-name basis. And if you are a recent graduate of the School of Law, there is a distinct possibility you have worked with the Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals attorney in his capacity as a career strategist for the J.D. Compass program, which debuted last summer as a career strategy resource for recent graduates. See “Creating Community.”

Yes, it’s fair to characterize Brown as a “natural networker.” But it’s not a self-coined term. It’s one of the first phrases that Kendra Brodin, director of the School of Law’s Career and Professional Development office, used when asked to describe the Twin Cities native who, in addition to being an attorney with diverse professional experience, also is an avid “old man” hockey player and married father of two young children.“Some people just have innate skills in relationship building, and that’s really what networking is,” said Brodin, who oversaw the launch and development of J.D. Compass, which pairs recent graduates with a hand-picked alumnus or staff career strategist like Brown.

“Adam is a joy to be around,” Brodin said. “I think people enjoy being with him and getting to know him, so it was a pretty natural fit for us to bring him on as one of our career strategists. The key with Adam is not just that he is a natural networker, it’s that he really has a handle on being able to teach others – especially young professionals – how to network as a method of finding that first job, or even that next job.”

Altruistic Approach to Networking

It’s no coincidence that a guy who admittedly benefited from the relationships he formed and cultivated with fellow students and professors at St. Thomas during his law school career would have an interest in “paying it forward.” But Brown stresses that he has never been a “capital N” networker – i.e., he enjoys the “people” aspect more than the suit-and-tie events themselves.

“I think back now and realize I spent a lot of time with people I went to law school with – I can’t say that about college or high school,” said Brown, who attended a large, suburban high school in the Twin Cities and completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “It was totally different at St. Thomas. The intimacy of the school is part of it. The network you develop here is really a list of allies – that’s the best way I can describe it; you just have a group of people you know you can count on with nothing expected in return.”

Even still, Brown knows the importance for law students and new attorneys to utilize their networks in their career strategies – especially when trying to “land that first, real job.”

Diversified Career Path

Brown, who went to work as a clerk for a panel of judges at the Minnesota State Court of Appeals following his graduation in 2006, originally anticipated during his 3L year that he would be offered a full-time associate position from the firm for which he had clerked during law school. When that didn’t come to fruition, Brown turned to his network of professional allies – several of them, in fact. A former St. Thomas law professor helped Brown with the application process at the Minnesota Court of Appeals when a new position opened up. After a year as a judicial clerk, Brown’s UST Law mentor, Gregg Johnson, contacted him to offer him an interview at his St. Paul-based firm that specialized in insurance defense of workers’ compensation claims. Brown got the job and spent five years with the firm, which he characterized as “a wonderful experience.”

“I felt really fortunate because I didn’t have any experience in workers’ compensation other than the time I spent with Gregg in the Mentor Externship program,” Brown said, “but I learned so much and really enjoyed the work and the people there.”

As he and his wife were expecting their second child, Brown decided to pursue an employment opportunity with the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals, which allowed him to work a more regular schedule. He said he always has had an intense interest in the appeals process.

“It’s really been a great fit for me,” Brown said. “And in terms of my work with the law school through the J.D. Compass program and Mentor Externship, it has allowed me to use a pretty diverse network of folks I have worked with to help students and recent graduates pursue career strategies in a variety of fields.”

Brown’s colleagues in the School of Law Career and Professional Development office echo that sentiment.

“The J.D. Compass program works well because we have career strategists with a variety of professional experiences and professional networks,” said Monica Gould, assistant director of Career and Professional Development at the School of Law. “When someone like Adam is individually plugged into several networks – including private practice, the courts and administrative government – the fact that he can and does reach out to those resources to continue to cultivate those relationships, all in an effort to help his fellow law school alumni, that’s a major advantage for our student body and recent graduates.”

As busy as all his alumni-oriented activities keep him, Brown said he relishes receiving the phone call or email from a student or recent School of Law graduate to inform him that they were hired.

“It’s like getting an assist in hockey,” he said. “You enjoy being a part of helping them score the goal. But it’s even more fun to be there to witness and help celebrate their accomplishment.”

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